|Died||29 May 1911 (aged 63)|
Daljosafat, Paarl, Union of South Africa
|Occupation||theologian, journalist, politician|
|Known for||Proponent of the Afrikaans language|
The Reverend Stephanus Jacobus du Toit[needs IPA] (9 October 1847 – 29 May 1911) was a controversial South African nationalist, theologian, journalist and failed politician. In his younger years Du Toit did much to promote the Afrikaans language as a symbol of Afrikaner nationalism. Apart from the years 1882-8 when he was Superintendent of Education in the South African Republic, he lived in or near the town of Paarl in the Cape Colony. Disillusionment with the Kruger regime led him, in later years, to moderate his views. He was instrumental in initiating the translation of the Bible into Afrikaans and was a proponent of the Afrikaans language. He died an outcast.
He was born in 1847 near Paarl in the Cape Colony at Plaas Kleinbos, a farm that had been in the family's possession since their arrival in the Cape as Hugenot refugees in 1688. He was educated at Paarl Gimnasium and studied theology at the Theological Seminary at Stellenbosch, completing his studies in 1872 and was ordained as a minister in the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church) (NGK) the same year. Theologically his view were much influenced by the Abraham Kuyper the Dutch Neo-Calvinist thinker. This made many congregations reluctant to invite him to be their minister. In 1875, he became the minister of a new congregation based close to the family farm – that of North Paarl, a post that he held until 1881.
At the time, the better-educated Dutch settlers in the Cape Colony regarded the Afrikaans language as a patois that was used by the less-educated. Du Toit however regarded the Afrikaans language as a symbol of Afrikaner Nationalism.
In the early 1870s two Dutch schoolteachers, Arnoldus Pannevis and C.P. Hoogenhout made a number of pleas in De Zuid-Afrikaan newspaper that, for the benefit of the Cape Coloured community and also for the lesser-educated Afrikaner community, the Bible should be translated into Afrikaans. In 1874, Pannevis addressed his concerns to the British and Foreign Bible Society while Du Toit's articles in De Zuid-Afrikaan added support to Pannevis and Hoogenhout.
On 14 August 1875, Hoogenhout, Du Toit and others established the Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners (Society of True Afrikaners) which has as its objectives the promotion of the Afrikaans language, nation and country. Initially this was to be achieved by the publication of a monthly journal and as soon as was possible, a dictionary and grammatical rules (spraakkuns). Du Toit was elected president of the association and within a year had compiled a set of grammatical rules.
In 1876, he launched the first Afrikaans language newspaper Die Afrikaanse Patriot. Initially the paper, a monthly publication, had 50 subscribers, in its second year of publication 400 and by 1881 3000 subscribers, having in 1877 become a weekly publication. Although Du Toit could not openly control Die Afrikaanse Patriot without the consent of his church council, he was the driving force behind the paper, while his brother D.F. du Toit (known as Oom Lokomotief) was officially the paper's editor.
The British annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 caused considerable anger among the Dutch community in all of Southern Africa. Die Afrikaanse Patriot published a scathing attack and Du Toit proposed a boycott of British goods and services, and in October 1880 Die Patriot argued that the time had come for decisive action-—many Transvaal leaders state that this was the trigger for the start of the First Boer War which led, in 1881, to the Transvaal regaining its independence.
In 1879, Du Toit proposed the formation of the Afrikaner Bond, an anti-British organisation in which all Afrikaners could feel at home. Die Patriot urged a boycott of British products. Jan Hofmeyr, who had founded the Zuidafrikaansche Boeren Beschermings Vereeniging (South African Farmers' Protection Association) as a vehicle of protest against a proposed excise duty on wine agreed to merge the two organisations and by skilful manoeuvring gained control of the merged organization.
In 1882, after the Transvaal (now the South African Republic) regained its independence, its president Paul Kruger invited Du Toit to become Superintendent of Education, a post that he held until 1889. He assisted in drawing up the Republic’s education law of 1882 which embodied Christian national principles. While he was secretary of state both the number of schools and the number of children attending school increased substantially. In 1883–4, he was part of Kruger’s delegation to Europe and helped negotiate the London Convention. In 1875, while in the Transvaal, he was appointed official translator of the Bible by the GRA, a task for which he received official encouragement from the government of the South African Republic.
He resigned in 1888 due to a personality clash with Willem Johannes Leyds, a newly appointed advisor to Kruger. After his resignation, he returned to the Cape Colony and publicly took over the post of editor of Die Patriot, breaking with his brother and other members of the Afrikaner Bond. He was personally bankrupt, having lost money in speculation while in the Transvaal. Under his editorship Die Patriot adopted a much more conciliatory stance towards the British Government, possibly as a result of financial backing he received from Cecil Rhodes, though this is disputed.
He continued his translation of the Bible into Afrikaans, following the principals of translation laid down by the Synod of Dordrecht requiring the use of the original Hebrew or Greek where appropriate. He succeeded in translating the Book of Genesis, the Psalms, the Songs of Solomon, Book of Joshua, the Gospel according to Matthew, the Gospel according to Mark, the Acts of the Apostles and the Book of Revelation. Du Toit's translation program was not well received—neither the synod of the NGK in Orange Free State in 1885 nor the synod of the NGK in the South African Republic in 1886 supported Du Toit's efforts. By 1890 the Eerste Taalbeweging (first language movement) was all but dead.
His son Jakob Daniël du Toit, known by the pen name Totius, a member of the Tweede Taalbeweging (second language movement), completed the translation in 1933 with assistance from his own son Stephanus du Toit (1905–1982).
The Jameson Raid of 1896 caused the Afrikaner Bond to break with Rhodes. Du Toit broke with the Afrikaner Bond and through Die Afrikaanse Patriot backed Rhodes both in the Jameson Raid and in the Second Anglo-Boer War. He stood for the Cape Parliament in 1898 but failed to get elected. In 1904, following financial problems DF du Toit & Co, the company that owned Die Afrikaanse Patriot was sold and the paper was succeeded by the Paarl Post.
Du Toit died on 25 May 1911 as a result of injuries sustained in August the previous year when the cart in which he was travelling overturned while he was journeying to Calvinia to visit one of his congregations.
Du Toit was a prolific writer— the anonymous author of the epitaph on his tombstone described him as "The father of the Afrikaans language", though this honour has also be given to Pannevis, to Hoogenhout or to all three. His contributions to Afrikaans literature included: